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I had a most extraordinary experience last weekend. I was invited to attend the Self-Reliance Expo in Colorado Springs as a speaker on a panel discussion called “The Women of Prepping.”

I’d never been to such an event before, and I couldn’t wait to go. I wanted to experience it all – the other speakers, the vendors, the workshops, the attendees – in short, everything.

Why? Because for literally the first time I was in a crowd of people who believed as I did: that we’re heading for some tough financial times in this country, and it behooves us to become as self-sufficient and independent as possible.

This was a family-friendly event which, contrary to those who think preppers are a doom-and-gloomy lot, was overwhelmingly positive and upbeat. People were relaxed, happy, and interested … in part, I believe, because many attendees felt the same way I did: that they were among friends.

Recognizing the deficiency of opportunities for like-minded people to gather, Red Shed Media Group (the organizers) began pulling together venues around the country that would serve local as well as online communities. These expos include educational classes, the opportunity to sample new foods and products, and (the point I feel is most important) to forge new connections with other individuals on the same wavelength. It’s difficult to learn self-reliance in a vacuum. Red Shed is helping to fill that void.

Personally, I think it’s a brilliant idea to provide opportunities for the meeting of minds between experts and businesses offering goods, services, and literature; and attendees who have a strong desire to learn as much as possible about food and water storage, gardening, medical subjects, financial security, firearms defense and other relevant issues.

At this expo, I felt like a kid in a candy store. And I wasn’t alone. Vendors and attendees felt the same way. I know because I asked.

There were five speakers on the Women of Prepping panel, all of whom spoke on the areas in which they have the most experience. Besides myself, featured speakers were Kellene Bishop, the most certified female NRA instructor in the western United States; Nurse Amy, a master gardener and advanced certified nurse practitioner (she was there with her husband, “Dr. Bones”), Lisa Bedford of The Survival Mom fame; and Jackie Clay, whose homesteading expertise is legendary. It was humbling to be in the company of these amazing women.

Additional speakers covered such diverse topics as crisis medicine, dehydrating, cooking with solar, rifle marksmanship, the future of money, homeschooling, principles of preparedness, bread-making and gardening. Vendor goods and services included non-electric kitchen aids, bulk food, canning supplies, freeze-dried and dehydrated foods, vacuum-packed non-hybrid seeds, ammunition, camping goods and equipment, homeschooling aids, solar aids, books, and dozens of other products and services. There were also numerous activities for children: basic rifle safety, making bubble tea, K9 presentations, fire starting demonstrations and grinding flour.

See? A candy store for preppers.

There was even a representative from National Geographic’s “Doomsday Prepper” series, trying (with difficulty) to find interested individuals to cast for next season’s show and having a hard time of it. The Nat Geo representative explained to me that casting tends to attract people on extreme ends of the bell curve. Most center-aisle people weren’t interested for fear of blowing their OpSec or being portrayed as kooks. (To its credit, Nat Geo is trying to avoid that stereotype.)

But prepping is becoming more mainstream than people realize, and this was demonstrated by a funny thing that happened to Nurse Amy on the first evening. It seems she and her husband had gone to dinner, and her husband had forgotten to remove his tag from the Expo. In the restaurant they were approached by a couple who peppered them with preparedness-related questions and stayed in discussion with them for about half an hour. The couple didn’t realize a Self-Reliance Expo was in town and so promised to come the next day. The couple thanked Nurse Amy and her husband for their time and departed … whereupon another couple in the booth behind (who had been listening with perked ears through the entire conversation) turned around and said, “We’re preppers, too!” Amy is an amusing speaker, so I laughed as she related this experience and said preppers are coming out of the woodwork.

It was like this all weekend. I’ve never had the pleasure of being around so many like-minded people at once. Rather than hiding our anxieties about the future or pretending all was well in the upper echelons of government, we could speak freely to strangers about our common concerns. No one had to worry about being called names or told we’re nuts if we don’t believe Ben Bernanke’s latest soothing assurance about the perfection of our economic state.

I often wonder: If our great-grandparents had known what was coming in 1929 while it was still 1928, what could they have done to prepare? Similarly, if you know something dire was on the immediate horizon (for the simple reason that our government is staggering under unsustainable debt), what would you do to get ready?

Well, guess what – it’s happening. The threat is real, and it’s undeniable. If you haven’t given much thought to such things before, I urge you to start now. There’s no time to be lost.

You can start by attending the next Self-Reliance Expo in Arlington, Texas, on July 27-28. This event will be held across the breezeway from Glenn Beck’s Restoring Love event, providing a double-whammy. Sadly, I have a prior commitment that weekend, otherwise I’d give my eye-teeth to attend.

I believe these self-reliance expos are miles ahead of the curve. This is a case of finding a niche and filling it admirably. Some prescient people saw the need for information among folks who are feeling the urge to prepare for hard times, and they decided to fill that need by bringing together a wide range of goods, services, experts, speakers and literature. I think we’re going to see more and more of this kind of thing around the country, and Red Shed is to be commended for not only being cutting edge in this respect, but putting on expos of daunting information.

I wish to publicly thank the Red Shed Media Group for such an unparalleled opportunity to participate in this expo. You’re on to something good, folks. America needs all the help it can get.

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